If the Democrats manage to win control of the U.S. House on Nov. 6, Pennsylvania will be a big reason why.
In PoliticsPA’s latest congressional vulnerability rankings for the Pennsylvania delegation – our first since Oct. 17 and the final one before Election Day – the Democrats continue to have the upper hand.
Only one of the eight seats that we see as most vulnerable to a party switch is currently held by a Democrat. If the Democrats win seven of these seats and the Republicans win one – a plausible enough scenario — Pennsylvania would by itself account for more than one-quarter of the 23 seats the Democrats need to flip the U.S. House.
Five Republican-held seats continue to rate as “highly vulnerable” on our list, while three others rate as “vulnerable.” By contrast, Democrats have just one seat in either the “highly vulnerable” or “vulnerable” categories.
The biggest shifts in this edition of our rakings are the upgrading of the 11th District, held by GOP Rep. Lloyd Smucker, to “vulnerable,” and the downgrading of the 8th District, held by Democratic Rep. Matt Cartwright, to “potentially vulnerable.”
As always, we rank the districts in descending order, from most vulnerable to less vulnerable.
- 5th District: R-held open seat (Patrick Meehan)
Geography: Delaware County
Candidates: Democrat Mary Gay Scanlon vs Republican Pearl Kim.
- 6th District: R-held open seat (Ryan Costello)
Geography: Chester County and Reading
Candidates: Democrat Chrissy Houlahan vs. Republican Greg McCauley.
- 14th District: D-held open seat (Conor Lamb)
Geography: Southwestern environs of Pittsburgh
Candidates: Republican Guy Reschenthaler vs. Democrat Bibiana Boerio.
The most vulnerable three seats on our list have attracted little attention from strategists in either party, given the near-certainty that they will switch partisan control. No late-breaking changes here.
- 17th District: Rep. Keith Rothfus (R)
Geography: Pittsburgh environs, including parts of Allegheny and Beaver counties
Candidates: Democratic Rep. Conor Lamb vs Republican Rothfus
- 7th District: R-held open seat (Charlie Dent)
Geography: Lehigh Valley
Candidates: Democrat Susan Wild vs. Republican Marty Nothstein
The next two seats on our list began as competitive between the parties, but as Election Day neared, the Democrats have opened up an edge in both. In the 7th, for instance, recent polls show Wild, the Democrat, leading by margins in the high single digits to the low double digits.
- 1st District: Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R)
Geography: Bucks County
Candidates: Democrat Scott Wallace vs. Republican Fitzpatrick
This is the closest contest on this list to a tossup going into Election Day. Recent polls have had either Wallace or Fitzpatrick ahead by a couple points.
- 10th District: Rep. Scott Perry (R)
Geography: Harrisburg and York
Candidates: Republican Perry vs. Democrat George Scott.
This race keeps getting closer and closer. Recent polls show Perry up by between one and three points.
- 16th District: Rep. Mike Kelly (R) (shift from No. 9)
Geography: Erie and environs
Candidates: Republican Kelly vs. Democrat Ron DiNicola.
This contest appears to be a late-breaking sleeper. DiNicola’s attacks on Kelly as a creature of Washington seem to be having an impact. A Susquehanna Research poll actually had DiNicola up by four points, after a Democratic poll two weeks earlier had placed Kelly up by three. Once a relative longshot, this is now a genuine contest.
- 11th District: Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R) (shift from “not vulnerable”)
Geography: Lancaster and environs
Candidates: Republican Smucker vs. Democrat Jessica King
Every so often, a race comes out of nowhere to make our list, and the 11th District is the one for 2018. After the state adopted new district lines earlier this year, we had relegated Smucker’s district to the “not vulnerable” category because it became significantly more Republican. But recent polls have had King trailing Smucker by margins only in the low single digits. Smucker still has the edge in this conservative district, but King now seems to have at least a theoretical shot.
- 8th District: Rep. Matt Cartwright (D) (shift from No. 8 and downgraded from “vulnerable” to “potentially vulnerable.”
Geography: Scranton-Wilkes Barre
Candidates: Democrat Cartwright vs, Republican John Chrin
Republican hopes for ousting a Democrat from this Trump-friendly seat have faded. Recent polls show Cartwright up by between 13 and 17 percentage points.
- 9th District: R-held open seat (Barletta) (shift from No. 10)
Geography: Schuylkill County and environs
Candidates: Republican Dan Meuser vs. Democrat Dennis Wolff
The same Susquehanna poll that gave Democrats DiNicola, King and Cartwright positive results in their districts found no such good news for Wolff. Always considered a longshot in this solidly conservative district, Wolff trailed Meuser by 21 points in the Susquehanna poll. He’ll need a miracle on Election Day to win.
2nd District: Rep. Brendan Boyle (D)
3rd District: Rep. Dwight Evans (D)
4th District: D-held open seat (Brady)
12th District: Rep. Tom Marino (R)
13th District: R-held open seat (Shuster)
15th District: Rep. Glenn Thompson (R)
18th District: Rep. Mike Doyle (D)